Depression is a mood disorder which currently affects 350 million individuals worldwide. Recently, research has suggested a protective role of diet for depression. The Mediterranean-style dietary pattern has been highlighted in several systematic reviews as a promising candidate for reducing depressive symptoms. It has been speculated that this could be due to the high polyphenol content of foods commonly found in the diet. Therefore, the aim of this review was to assess the effects of polyphenols found in a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression. A systematic literature review was conducted of original research which assessed the role of polyphenols on the symptoms of depression in humans. The following databases were searched: PROQUEST, SCOPUS (Elsevier), MEDLINE (EBSCO), CINAHL, and EMBase, up to 18 February, 2019. The inclusion criteria consisted of both observational and experimental research in adults aged 18-80 y that assessed depression scores in relation to polyphenol intake. A total of 37 studies out of 12,084 met the full inclusion criteria. Of these, 17 were experimental studies and 20 were observational studies. Several different polyphenols were assessed including those from tea, coffee, citrus, nuts, soy, grapes, legumes, and spices. Twenty-nine of the studies found a statistically significant effect of polyphenols for depression. This review has found both an association between polyphenol consumption and depression risk, as well as evidence suggesting polyphenols can effectively alleviate depressive symptoms. The review uncovered gaps in the literature regarding the role of polyphenols for depressive symptoms in both young adults and men. This review was registered at www.crd.york.ac.uk/PROSPERO as CRD42019125747.
Keywords: depression; flavonoids; major depressive disorder; mental health; phytochemicals; polyphenols.
Copyright © The Author(s) 2019.